Fresh artists helping local schools

January 27, 2009 3:59:04 PM PST
A new organization has responded to Mayor Nutter's challenge to close the education funding gap, by providing art supplies to city public schools. It made its first delivery to an elementary school in North Philadelphia Tuesday morning.

Educators know that art increases a child's self esteem, and can improve their performance in other classes.

Potter-Thomas Elementary is one of many schools in the city, that applied to Fresh Artists for a grant.

"Art is empowering and it's important that we empower our children in positive ways."

Fresh Artists made its first delivery Tuesday, the first of 150 deliveries of 40-thousand dollars worth of art supplies.

"I'm painting a kitchen thing, I'm painting a flower thing," said 3rd grader Michelle Rosario.

One young man prefers to paint people.

"Because it's harder," said Naseem Ramirez.

Lisa Thomas-Laury asked, "You like to challenge yourself?"

"Yes," he answered.

"These are children who are typically not recognized, may never be recognized but all of a sudden society is saying 'you've done something valuable,'" said Barbara Chandler Allen who is the former director of Fresh Artists.

"We use water colors, we use temper paint but acrylic paints and canvas, it's what real artists use," exclaimed art teacher Darren Umble.

"I like all the colo

rs and I like polka dots a lot," said Franchely Lopez, a 3rd grader.

"When I sit down and just draw it calms me," explained Nathan Rodriguez.

Lisa asked, "It calms you?"

"Yes," he replied.

"When you color something it looks like the picture is coming alive," said Carlos Rivera.

In past years art teachers in Philadelphia's public schools have been given only 83-cents per child, per year, to purchase art supplies.

"Most of the art teachers we've been meeting buy a lot of their art supplies with their own paychecks."

Already artwork from some 200 students is displayed in the headquarters of corporate sponsors, like Heath Partners, artwork from these kids and from teenagers like Sara Hendrix, who created a painting in memory of the grandmother who raised her.

"Art to me is an expression of who I am every piece that I draw has something to do with me."

Philadelphia like cities across the country, is struggling to keep essential programs like art education in public schools.

With the support of Fresh Start, and donations from companies like Sherman Mills Art Supplies, one of today's contributors, it hopes to not only fund art education, but inspire more young artists in the city.

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